Lawmakers who junked death bill keep posts, for now

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THE no votes have been cast, but the deputy speaker and lawmakers who rejected the death penalty bill have not been kicked out, yet.

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Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez had warned that he will remove from their posts those who will vote against the passage of House Bill 4727 that seeks to impose capital punishment. The measure was resoundingly approved on Tuesday via a 127-54 vote.

One of those who voted no was Deputy Speaker Gloria Arroyo.

Alvarez and Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas admitted that they needed more time to execute their plan of replacing the House leaders who voted against the death penalty bill.

“I’ll talk with the Majority leader. It (The plan) is as good as the day follows night. We still have to figure out the replacement,” Alvarez said.

Fariñas said Alvarez allowed him to handle the matter.

“I am the Majority Leader and I handle affairs pertaining to the Majority, in the same manner that the Minority Leader does with his group,” he added.

Those who voted against the death penalty bill include Commission on Appointments member Josephine Sato, House Committee on Public Information Chairman Antonio Tinio of Alliance of Concerned Teachers, House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna, House Committee on Women and Gender Equality Chairman Emmi de Jesus of Gabriela, House Committee on Civil Service and Professional Regulation Vilma Santos-Recto of Batangas, House Committee on People Participation Chairman Arlene Bag-ao of Dinagat Islands, House Committee on Muslim Affairs Sitti Hataman of Anak Mindanao party-list, House Committee on Basic Education and Culture Evie Escudero, House Special Committee on Land Use Chairman Kit Belmonte of Quezon City.

Santos-Recto said she said no to the measure because allowing the return of the death penalty is like playing judge on who deserves to live or not.

“Reformation. Rehabilitation. Reintegration. Those are the three processes that I believe in. I have consulted my constituents on this and on their behalf, I say an adamant no to the re-imposition of Death Penalty,” she said in a statement.

“I fully understand the consequences of not supporting this bill, but in the question of life and death, our conscience prevails. Life is simply not ours to take,” Santos-Recto added.

Belmonte noted that a yes vote for the death penalty puts blood on lawmakers’ hands.

“I cannot fathom the idea that our 17th Congress, with its foresight, would take blood in its own hands. I cannot live with the thought that we, the members of the House of Representatives, will allow fellow human beings to be killed by our own government,” Belmonte said when he explained his no vote.

“Imposing death penalty is allowing state-sponsored killings. A person killed by the State in its death chambers is blood in my hands; blood in our hands. I refuse the idea that I allow(ed) our government to kill in my name; our name. I am here as the representative of my constituents, mostly law-abiding, tax-paying citizens,” he added.

Llanesca T. Panti

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